Sonoma IndyCar: Hunter-Reay leads opening practice

Andretti Autosport Honda’s Ryan Hunter-Reay topped the field by a quarter-second in FP1 as the Verizon IndyCar Series prepares for its season finale and its final race at Sonoma Raceway.

Sonoma IndyCar: Hunter-Reay leads opening practice

The 2012 series champion beat 2018 title favorite, Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing, by 0.2526sec to set a 1min17.5742sec lap on the Firestone primary tires – an average speed of 110.681mph.

Dixon was 0.55sec ahead of five-time Sonoma polesitter Will Power who – along with Penske-Chevrolet teammate Josef Newgarden - retains a very outside chance of this year’s championship.

They require maximum points – win and leading most laps – along with Dixon to finish lower than 22nd in the 25-car field, and for Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport) to finish lower than ninth.

Simon Pagenaud fans had cause for cautious optimism after FP1, as their man, who has struggled with the 2018 aerokit on road courses all season, clocked fourth fastest time behind Power, a mere 0.0768sec slower.

Both were in a happier state than teammate Newgarden who took no part in the session due to a mechanical issue.

Marco Andretti was fifth for Andretti Autosport, ahead of the second Ganassi-Honda of Ed Jones while Graham Rahal slotted the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda into seventh.

Title contender Rossi was struggling, suffering a spin on the way to eighth fastest time, seven-tenths off his pacesetting teammate and only a fraction ahead of his rookie teammate Zach Veach.

Dale Coyne Racing had three in a row, Sebastien Bourdais leading rookies Pietro Fittipaldi and Santino Ferrucci, while Indy Lights aces Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward – on their official race weekend debut in an IndyCar – were 16th and 24th, 1.25 and 1.6sec off Hunter-Reay’s pace.

James Hinchcliffe suffered two spins in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda but outpaced Robert Wickens stand-in Carlos Munoz.

Second practice, which includes a chance to run on Firestone’s red alternate compound, begins at 3pm local (Pacific) time.

Sonoma, IndyCar first practice:

Pos. # Driver Time Gap Mph
1 28 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay 1'17.5742   110.681
2 9 New Zealand Scott Dixon 1'17.8268 0.2526 110.322
3 12 Australia Will Power 1'17.8818 0.3076 110.244
4 22 France Simon Pagenaud 1'17.9586 0.3844 110.135
5 98 United States Marco Andretti 1'18.0878 0.5136 109.953
6 10 United Arab Emirates Ed Jones 1'18.1385 0.5643 109.882
7 15 United States Graham Rahal 1'18.1665 0.5923 109.842
8 27 United States Alexander Rossi 1'18.2738 0.6996 109.692
9 26 United States Zach Veach 1'18.3541 0.7799 109.579
10 18 France Sébastien Bourdais 1'18.3709 0.7967 109.556
11 19 Brazil Pietro Fittipaldi 1'18.4442 0.8700 109.454
12 39 United States Santino Ferrucci 1'18.5994 1.0252 109.237
13 21 United States Spencer Pigot 1'18.7290 1.1548 109.058
14 30 Japan Takuma Sato 1'18.7456 1.1714 109.035
15 5 Canada James Hinchcliffe 1'18.7757 1.2015 108.993
16 88 United States Colton Herta 1'18.8261 1.2519 108.923
17 60 United Kingdom Jack Harvey 1'18.9310 1.3568 108.779
18 23 United States Charlie Kimball 1'18.9638 1.3896 108.733
19 14 Brazil Tony Kanaan 1'19.0612 1.4870 108.599
20 4 Brazil Matheus Leist 1'19.0917 1.5175 108.558
21 6 Colombia Carlos Munoz 1'19.0925 1.5183 108.556
22 20 United Kingdom Jordan King 1'19.1632 1.5890 108.459
23 59 United Kingdom Max Chilton 1'19.1739 1.5997 108.445
24 8 Mexico Patricio O'Ward 1'19.1898 1.6156 108.423
25 1 United States Josef Newgarden no time - -
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